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OPINION: Letter to the Editor: Basketball players applauded

March 1st, 2013 | Jack M. Smith, Jr. Print this article   Email this article  

For graduating sophomores Christina Fields from Kotzebue and Nicole Smith of Barrow, ending the Highline Women's Basketball season without a trip to the Northwest Playoffs might be a little disappointing. Bridging the gap from playing with a team that often begins working together in rural Alaska elementary schools to college with top notch players from several states is challenging.

A 20-minute half versus a game divided into quarters requires greater stamina, while the shot clock forces quick decision making.

For a parent that has experienced both victory and defeat, the greatest joy is watching polished teamwork, sportsmanship, and the abilities players bring to the court.

While loss causes momentary sorrow, there are things that bring lasting joy. Recognizing the competition our young ladies faced leaving Barrow or Kotzebue; it was shocking to learn they were both awarded to the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges All Star Academic Team. WOW! This is more than winning a game, representing hard work and study each and every day. Many think young people from rural Alaska schools can't hack it. Well, Christina and Nicole prove them wrong, not only did they get these awards; they helped tutor and coordinate study groups. All this while enduring a punishing practice and game schedule.

Most recognize an athlete's career is limited by a number of factors. Success afterwards depends on their knowledge and other skills. Many parents struggle trying to stress the importance of both. While the agony of defeat at a sports game may last days or weeks, a loss in the academic world can impact the remainder of their lives.

While I know my daughter occasionally got mad or frustrated for harping on her about homework in elementary or high school, it is something she clearly carried to the next level on her own. Putting the ball in the net and getting good grades takes hard work. I'll always remember watching Christina and Nicole demonstrate their skills and working as a team. Most important is the ability to brag about the hard work and commitment they demonstrated and look forward to what the future holds. Great job ladies!

To my daughter Nicole, congratulations for being selected to the NWAACC All Star defensive team. Congratulations to my friends the Field's family in Kotzebue. It was a joy to watch Christina on the court and I did brag about her getting together to study with others. And to Desirrea Kenworthy who will be a sophomore next year, we will be watching....

Jack M. Smith, Jr.



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